TPI's Carl Henderson Finds Success Specializing In A Very Tiny Destination
Open Jaw Exclusive – Finding Their Niche by Martha Chapman
More and more Canadian agents are finding their own niche
when it comes to selling travel. But how small can your niche be – and still
earn you a decent living? Open Jaw has discovered 5 agents who are following
their passion… professionally.
Think you could make a living selling a destination 1/5 the
size of Prince Edward Island? Well Carl Henderson did. The secret to his
success: location, location, location.
Based in Oakville, Carl has been in the industry for 17
years in a variety of roles including as an agent with Virgin Holidays and
iTravel2000 as well as working with TPI on the marketing side. “About 5 years
ago I decided I wanted to go back as an agent – and I’m loving the freedom,” he
told Open Jaw.
And not just the freedom, but the destination he has decided
to specialize in. “At first I thought I’d specialize in cruising and see what
happens. But I’d been to Tahiti previously, loved it and was all over any
chance to sell it.”
He also realized that not a lot of agents knew how to sell
it properly and heard of some really bad trips being planned. Add the fact that
it’s definitely an upscale product, and Henderson knew he’d found his niche.
He hones his knowledge of the destination by visiting it at
least once a year, and can now boast he’s been to every significant resort on
the main 8 islands of Tahiti including Moorea, Tahiti and Bora Bora.
Is he not afraid of painting himself into a corner,
professionally speaking, with such a narrow focus? “To be truthful it’s not
100% of my business as my Tahiti clients tend to come back to me for other
high-end trips. But, they also bring great referrals, as do my TPI colleagues,
so my Tahiti clientele is growing across North America, with lots from the
States – and even one lady from Brazil. She didn’t speak English and I don’t
speak Portuguese but we managed together with Google translate!”
Not surprisingly, lots of his business is honeymoon and
“bucket list” travel. And even the notoriously low loonie is not having an adverse
effect on his business: as Henderson explains, people will splurge because it’
such a special destination. And he’s more than happy to plan the dream.